The 2008 presidential election is a watershed election in the history of politics in America. For the first time, Americans will have a chance to see people of different genders and races compete for this nation’s highest elective office. Sen. Hillary Clinton, the New York senator whose husband occupied the White House for eight years, has a strong chance of winning the Democratic nomination.
Meanwhile, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, whose youth and popularity symbolize change, has an equally strong chance to be the first African-American of either party to be nominated for this country’s highest office.
However, unlike white males who have traditionally sought this office, these two popular candidates face hidden issues that will have a profound effect on American society. Clinton, who is an atypical white female, faces gender-related issues that focus on the role of white females in America.
Obama faces the burden of whether or not he will be a president for all of America or a president for black America.
How these candidates deal with hidden issues associated with race, gender and role play will have a profound impact on how 21st century America views such issues.
The great challenge faced by Sen. Clinton is: Can America accept the possibility of being governed by an Alpha white female who believes she can actually govern this country? When husband Bill ran for the presidency in 1992, Hillary made this statement. “I’m am not your typical stand-by-your-man woman.” Her career and personal life supports this remark. In 1968, she delivered the graduation address at her commencement. She later got her law degree and assisted in the investigation of the Watergate scandal.
When she married Bill Clinton she became the family’s leading money earner. All of this was accomplished in the 1960s and ’70s when white females had few, if any, trappings associated with political and economic power in America. Hillary represents the ambitious white female who wants power on her terms. She challenges the traditional homemaker/caretaker role America associates with females. Meanwhile, the role of breadwinner and money-earner who provided for the family was assigned to men.
Society’s glamorization of females as wives, homemakers, mothers and caretakers continued until the Women Rights Movement of the 1960s and ’70s demanded that America give middle class white women their place in the sun.
Hillary Rodham Clinton came of age during this time.
Some believe when she became First Lady in 1993, she wanted to be co-president with her husband. If that were true, then she suffered a major defeat when her health insurance ideas were defeated during her husband’s first term. Later, during her husband’s scandal-ridden second term, when America was preoccupied with his extramarital affairs, Clinton said she was the victim of a right wing conspiracy. It seemed she could not do anything right!
Hillary’s real challenge is not her financial, legal or political activities. It is how she views herself as it relates to the role that American society has traditionally reserved for the middle class white female. The question is whether or not Hillary’s vision of herself and her role will get her the presidency or get her crucified. Now, as she aims for this country’s highest office, it will be up to the voters to answer that question.